*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured State*
This month’s State is Arkansas!
I have to say that Arkansas has been one of the easiest states to find good, Metal bands to cover for our State of the Art series. All types of Metal have been represented over the course of the month as well: Traditional, Thrash, Christian, Bluesy, Sludge and Doom. As a matter of fact, it took all but a single search to pick out four of my Arkansas bands. Collectively, none of us can read a calender and were getting ready to move onto our next state this week when BloodRoseRed pointed out that we still had one more week in Arkansas. Boneheads. I humorously felt like a complete idiot. Meh. Shit happens. Moving on… I again, had zero difficulty finding another unique band to cover so his week I give you Iron Iris.
Iron Iris was founded in 2013 and originates in Fayetteville, AR, home of the University of Arkansas. It comes as no surprise then that founding member vocalist/guitarist Andrew Flory and drummer, Brian Bailey hold Bachelor’s of Music degrees (Classical Guitar Performance and Jazz Studies, respectively) from the University of Arkansas and U of A Fort Smith while guitarist Chase Chamberlain is currently working towards his degree from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith. Talented enough and apparently not needing a piece of paper to define his musical talent is the other founding member and bass player, Alex Mathews. With such a wide spectrum of influence and musical savvy, Iron Iris has an edgy, yet technical take on Metal; all dub-genres, be damned. Their sound is exclusive, mixing Thrash with a modern grooves and tempos while remaining just a notch or two heavier than Hard Rock/Traditional Heavy Metal bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow. With influences said to be Black Sabbath, Metallica, Iron Maiden, The Sword, Megadeth, Pantera, Witchcraft, Led Zeppelin, Electric Wizard, Judas Priest and Mastodon, you get the picture of the direction Iron Iris is headed while paying homage to where Metal was born. Iron Iris has definite, old-school underpinnings but has something here for any lover of Metal. Heavily guitar based with riffy and complex, fuzzy distorted bass lines, dynamic and driving drums and the gravelly and throaty vocals of Flory create a massive and tightly focused vortex of sound. Even their cover of “Foxy Lady” sounds like a clever Iron Iris original. Brilliant and utterly bad-ass! Lyrical direction go from historic to timely and raw while leaving room for the aforementioned cover and even an instrumental with “Beer Mountain”.
Since starting as an experimental basement band, Iron Iris has graduated to frequent bookings throughout Arkansas and recently to Kansas. Shows are aggressive and charismatic and, based on video and gut feeling, I can’t imagine a certain amount of humor and beer-swilling shenanigans not taking place as well. Iron Iris has a single, full length release: “The Beast of Burden” from February 2016 and it is an absolute pleasure to listen to from the sound of cracking open a cold one to the closing note of powerful title song “Beast of Burden”. Iron Iris is a flashback of sound that reflect a promising future of Metal; one where musicians play their instruments and understand that having a “roots” sound does not have to sound “old”. A genuinely valuable addition to our musical tapestry that I hope takes hold and proliferates and redefines what Metal can be…